Living the Resurrection on Mother's Day
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, "Woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." (John 19:24-27)
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Mother's Day is always fun when the kids are young -- the homemade crafts, the valiant efforts of breakfast making, and the conscientious attention a mother receives in contrast to the usual "being taken for granted" and "aww mom, do I have to" gestures. My son is a sweet boy -- caring, empathetic, and a rule follower. When I was pregnant with him, it was as if this little organism had invaded my whole body. I felt pregnant from head to toe -- migraines, severe morning sickness, bloody noses, swelled feet, strong cravings for watermelon, and oh yeah ... my favorite: constipation. Sorry if that is sharing too much, but like I said, I was literally pregnant from head to toe.
My daughter is also sweet, or, should I say, sweet and sour. When she is happy, she is electric, contagious, and absolute pure joy. When she is upset, she is ... well what can I say? Sour.
And now Mother's Day -- the one day devoted to mothers -- seems to make it all worth it. This year, since Mother's Day is so close to Easter, I've been thinking a lot about Mary. Easter is usually such a celebratory time, where we are reminded to live as resurrected people, live into the hope, live into the dawn of the new day. Christ has died and conquered death. He has risen indeed. But I wonder -- through Mary's eyes, through a mother's eyes -- how does one live the resurrection? Even if her son had conquered death, it doesn't take away the images of watching her son die a horrible death; it doesn't take away the pain a mother feels when her child is suffering. I wonder how many times Mary looked back when she gave birth to her son during those moments of sitting near the cross. When Jesus carried the cross through town, did Mary think of the long journey she took to Bethlehem while pregnant? When the people yelled "Crucify him!" did it remind Mary of the time they escaped Egypt to protect her baby boy from King Herod? When Jesus cried out his last cry, did Mary think about the cries she let out when giving birth? And when he breathed his last breath, did Mary cling to the memory of when she saw him breathe his first breath -- born in a manger?
Ask any mother and they will tell you that the pain of losing a child at any age is a heavy weight to carry. Sarah Walker Cleaveland, a spiritual director, shares her thoughts on trying to lose weight after losing her twin boys 19 weeks into the pregnancy:
You would think that the death of twin boys and our grief surrounding that loss would be all-consuming. What is a few extra pounds in the face of such a loss? But, if I'm honest, on a day to day basis, it is the extra weight that bothers me the most. Maybe it is that the death of babies is too big to grasp most days, too big to carry around when the rest of life goes on. Or maybe it is simply that extra weight is the only thing that is tangibly different in my life now that we are no longer pregnant. Whatever the reason, the weight bothers me. I told my spiritual advisor about it one day. It's so frustrating, I complained. And I'm so frustrated that this is the aspect of our loss that frustrates me the most. Sounds normal, she said. Sounds like you are carrying the weight of this loss with you in more ways than one. Oh, I thought.
Maybe that's it. Maybe that is how we are to live the resurrection. We all carry the weight of the world -- the violence in the Middle East, the economic crisis, the state of public school education, the destruction of tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and floods. We carry the weight of the loss of loved ones, the loss of dreams, and the loss of jobs. We bear the scars of mistakes learned, tragedies overcome, and pain endured. Even after the resurrection, Jesus showed his scars to Thomas. And with Thomas' doubt, Peter's denial, and the disciples' fear, Jesus still called them -- just as they are to live the resurrection. And like any grieving mother, one never stops carrying the weight, but Christ still calls us, just as we are, to share the weight of the world.
Theresa Cho is a Reno, Nevada native who graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago with awards in preaching and theology. She blogs at Still Waters.